Experimental Particle Physics Research Group

Funded PhD studentships

We are currently accepting applications for STFC, Royal Society, and University funded studentships in our group for a September 2021 start. Interviews for shortlisted candidates are expected to be held in February and March initially and will continue until the positions are filled. Please apply using the online application form.

Some examples of current projects available:

ATLAS Electroweak Supersymmetry Searches

The Sussex group is one of the leaders in the search for Beyond the Standard Model (BSM) physics in Electroweak Supersymmetry (SUSY) models. The successful applicant will lead the search for SUSY in ATLAS data with specific emphasis on the production of SUSY particles via Vector Boson Fusion (VBF) and Initial State Radiation (ISR). These events are characterised by final states with two taus, one or two jets, and missing energy coming from the decay of the SUSY particles, and are expected to give competitive sensitivities for SUSY searches in Run-3 of the Large Hadron Collider (expected to start towards the end of 2021), as well as at the future High-Luminosity LHC (HL-LHC). The student will apply new data science techniques (ML, MVAs, etc) and/or identify new variables, as well as study possible new triggers for the analysis. In addition to the data analysis work, the student will take part in the ATLAS Detector operations through work on the ATLAS Trigger system. The Sussex group is leading the ATLAS Inner Detector (ID) trigger system, and the student will work on the development, testing and commissioning of ID trigger algorithms to efficiently select electron-, muon- and tau-triggered events at the start of (and during) Run3 of the ATLAS experiment. (Supervisor: Prof. Fabrizio Salvatore) 

ATLAS Beyond the Standard Model Searches in Multileptonic Final States

PhD projects are available to work on the ATLAS experiment at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC). These projects are well synchronised with the start of the LHC Run-3, which will lead to the collection of unprecedented amounts of proton-proton collisions at the highest energies ever reached at a collider. Successful applicants will join Sussex’s leading programme of data-intensive searches for new physics phenomena Beyond the Standard Model (BSM) in multileptonic final states at ATLAS, using Run-2 and Run-3 data samples collected by the experiment. Multileptonic “signatures” are characteristic of a wide range of exciting BSM scenarios, which aim to shed light on some of the most pressing questions in fundamental physics – such as the origin of dark matter in our universe, or the fundamental nature of neutrino masses. Models to be explored include the production of weakly interacting supersymmetric particles known as charginos and neutralinos, or the production of exotic heavy neutral leptons as encountered in seesaw models of neutrino masses. Sussex’s principal technical involvement in ATLAS is through the experiment’s trigger system, including focus on future upgrades of the ATLAS detector. Commensurately with their role, and in synergy with their other research and training activities, successful applicants will be expected to contribute to Sussex’s technical commitments to the ATLAS experiment. Example of trigger-related activities that Sussex students have significantly contributed to in recent years include software developments for the ATLAS Inner Detector system, or the characterisation of key properties of electron-based triggers. (Supervisor: Prof. Antonella De Santo)

Investigating the Vacuum Stability of the University by Measuring the Properties of the Higgs Boson with ATLAS

Probing the Higgs boson, the most recently discovered fundamental particle, and one unlike anything else in the Standard Model (SM), is a critical priority in the search for new physics at the LHC. The Higgs boson is responsible for giving fundamental particles their mass and has the strongest interaction with the largest mass particles. The top quark is the heaviest fundamental particle in the SM and therefore has the strongest coupling to the Higgs. This makes LHC collisions where a Higgs is produced with a top-quark pair (ttH) one of the most exciting places to look for signs of new physics. The candidate will play a leading role in new differential measurements of ttH. This will provide fresh sensitivity to the top quark-Higgs interaction and the Higgs boson’s interaction with itself that will lead to world-leading sensitivity to new physics. The importance of this work goes beyond understanding the Higgs boson. The interplay between the strength of the Higgs interaction to the top quark and with itself is directly related to the stability of the Universe at a quantum level and is a vital piece in the understanding of our existence. The ATLAS-Sussex group has made significant contributions to measurements of ttH, ttW and ttZ production in multi-lepton final states performed so far in ATLAS: profiting from this experience in the group, the candidate will be ideally positioned to make large impact in this sector, also through close contact with CERN-based experts. (Supervisor: Dr. Josh McFayden)

Fermilab SBND Liquid Argon Neutrino Detector Commissioning and Analysis

A number of experiments have shown anomalies in neutrino oscillation results, hinting at a possible additional neutrino state beyond the three present in the Standard Model. The Short Baseline Neutrino programme at Fermilab aims to settle the question of whether or not the anomalies are real or not, with a set of three large liquid argon TPC neutrino detectors: ICARUS, MicroBooNE, and the Short Baseline Near Detector (SBND). SBND will begin commissioning in 2022, and this project will involve helping with final installation and optimisation of the detector, and analysis of initial data. The detector technology used in SBND also provides the basis for the far detector planned for the next generation long baseline oscillation experiment, DUNE, and this project will also involve helping determine the final design for this future mega-experiment. (Supervisor: Dr. Clark Griffith)

NOvA and DUNE Neutrino Oscillations

The recent discovery of the last neutrino mixing angle (theta13) has opened a door to discovering the pattern of the neutrino masses and whether neutrinos violate CP symmetry: two of the very last missing pieces of the standard model of particle physics extended to include neutrino masses. Neutrinos may provide the answer to the big question of why the universe is dominated by matter and not antimatter. With the NOvA experiment you will have the opportunity to compare data taken with a beam of neutrinos to those from a beam of antineutrinos, looking for differences. The physics reach of NOvA is unique due to its long 810 km baseline combined with the high power and well understood beam of (anti)neutrinos. The DUNE experiment is the successor to NOvA and will use huge liquid argon TPC detectors. With DUNE you will have the opportunity to help design and build the experiment for the future. (Supervisor: Prof. Jeff Hartnell)

Detecting Low Energy Neutrinos with DUNE

A studentship is available to work with Prof Simon JM Peeters on the development of the DUNE neutrino experiment and the study of neutrinos. DUNE is a next generation neutrino experiment planned to start running in the second half of the next decade. A beam of neutrinos will be sent 1,300 km from Fermilab near Chicago to the Stanford Underground Research Facility, in South Dakota. The far detector consists of four Time-Projection Chamber (TPC) modules, using 40 ktonnes of liquid argon as a neutrino target. This allows the measurement of the products of neutrino interactions in great detail. The primary physics goal of the experiment is to understand if the matter-antimatter asymmetry of the Universe is due to CP violation in the neutrino sector. The detector is also able to observe a range of astrophysical neutrinos (e.g. from supernovae, the Sun, or dark matter annihilation). Projects in this area will be focused on data acquisition, detector simulation, and low-energy neutrinos (as these will be the most challenging to detect). There will be the opportunity to become involved in testbeam activities, such as protoDUNE at CERN. (Supervisor: Prof. Simon J.M. Peeters)

SNO+ Reactor Antineutrino Oscillations

Applications are invited from talented and creative students for a PhD place in Experimental Particle Physics, to join the Sussex group working on the SNO+ experiment under the supervision of Dr Lisa Falk. SNO+ offers a rich programme of neutrino physics, which includes neutrinoless double beta decay, antineutrinos from reactors and geothermal activity, solar neutrinos and a supernova watch. It is located at SNOLAB, 2 km underground in the Creighton mine in Canada. Data-taking commenced in 2017 with scintillator fill currently underway. The successful candidate is expected to work on the analysis of antineutrinos, focusing on an oscillation measurement using nearby reactor sources. The student will also spend some fraction of their time developing software for the calibration of the experiment and for data quality assurance, as well as participating in SNO+ experimental operations. The project is likely to involve spending an extended period of time at SNOLAB. (Supervisor: Dr. Lisa Falk)